Monday, November 24, 2014

We Shall Destroy - #Thinkathon 2014

Last week I had the privilege to attend the inaugural Thinkathon session in New York City hosted by the amazing team at purematter and IBM Social Business. Thirty of us were brought together from all walks of digital life to tackle the future of work. 


What does it look like? 
How will people work? 

What will the workplace...and workspace...look like?
What about loyalty?

What about full-time employment?
Will any work get done?

What about the younger-aged (and younger-minded!) workforce? Are they all self-serving work-life balance fanatics who don't appreciate 70 hour work weeks?

We were brought together to destroy the world of work as it exists today.

The Future is Cool...and Scary!
Our session kicked off with a fascinating (and haunting) message from Faith Popcorn, a prophetic futurist who is so accurate you'll want to follow her around and simply listen. 

Robots, genetic transformation, and the potential for more than one hundred million displaced workers got us all fired up to continue our mission!


Start Destroying!
The afternoon was then taken over by Hendre Coetzee, an absolutely brilliant facilitator and leader who guided our group of "world-of-work assassins" through a series of highly interactive and challenging sessions on what it will mean to work in the future.

We powered through five key drivers that will change how we work forever:
- the future of work talent
- the future of work culture
- the future of big data/analytics at work
- the future of technology at work
- the future of work collaboration/communication

Whoa! Heavy topics for a group of heavy-hitters!

By the way, when, not if, you seek out Hendre for guidance in your own organization you will not be disappointed. He is masterful at his craft.

How About You
The man that made this all possible was Bryan Kramer, CEO of purematter and the connection to the IBM Social Business team. Kudos to you Bryan and your amazing team for putting together an event that blew me away. (The following two days focused on IBM's #NewWayToWork campaign...more on that later!)

What are you doing to get out in front of the evolving world of work? Are you clinging to the status quo? Don't do it! The future is now! I'm fired up to hack the future of work in my organization! Who's ready to destroy with me?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.




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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Expert In You

As it turns out, I wasn't born with experience. In anything

I made my way through high school and college...still no experience. I stumbled in to the world of work and tried to find my way. I didn't have any experience at that point either. So I jumped in to graduate school...clinging to a little tiny speck of real life.

Confidence
I did have one important thing...lots of confidence. It's not that I wasn't intimidated by those around me with years and years of experience. They offered perspectives on issues that I didn't even realize existed.

But I listened...and learned...and wanted more.

So, I figured that if it was going to take me a lifetime of learning to become an "expert" I might as well dive in and try my best right out of the gate. So I did. I tried new things. I took risks. I used tools that other people thought were a waste of time in meetings (remember when PowerPoint was new and cool?)

My confidence never wavered, even if the those around me thought I was wasting my time.

Opportunity
One of the unexpected outcomes of being both confident and willing to take risks is that good things happen. For me those good things meant new jobs with expanded responsibilities. 

Even when I took a risk on an operations role that was eliminated a year later, I knew I had made the right decision to go for it. How many HR leaders have actually spent any time in an operations role? 

I've continued to take risks...BIG ones! But each was worth it. Even when others simply didn't see the value because they had not allowed themselves to open their minds to the modern world of work. 

It's okay. We all get there eventually...maybe I'm cursed being on a different schedule than others.

How About You
Do you have the potent combination of confidence and risk inside of you? I think so. It creates opportunities for those of us willing to see them. It opens doors that a few years ago we might not even have seen right in front of us. It can make all the difference.

I'm no expert...but I do know that life is too short to hold back. Take a closer look at your world...and go for it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 




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Monday, November 10, 2014

HR and the Power It Holds



I love modern, sleek furniture. The days of giant dark wood desks and foreboding offices are gone for me. I prefer a more open style that sends a message to everyone that I'm not hiding behind my over-sized mahogany (esque) structures anymore.

Doesn't the HR job title already get in the way of employees being comfortable in our workspace?

More Power
There's another furniture discussion  we've all heard in the HR universe. I don't like that one for a couple of reasons.

First, HR has lots of power. Don't believe me? Just ask any employee that has been in trouble since 1950. Still don't believe me? Try randomly selecting an employee and asking them to come to your office because "you need to speak with them." I wonder what type of reaction you would get?

Second, whining is lame, it detracts from the credibility of the profession, and erodes the HR leader's personal brand. Oh yes, personal brand. By now we all realize that EVERYTHING we do affects our personal brand. There is no distinction between personal and professional life any longer.

There is only life.

Share the Power
In what seems like a never-ending attempt to cling to the power crumbs thrown from the operations leaders, HR can lose focus. Our reality is that through reaching out and allowing other leaders to feel they have some of HR's power, we will actually grow our value to the organization.

Consider this...a manager who is stressed about a difficult situation in her department reluctantly reaches out to HR for support. Feeling as if she's failed and has to give up control in order to get her problem resolved, HR has a decision to make.

The shrewd HR leader does much more than "coach" the leader through her problem. The real opportunity for HR is to focus on ensuring that leader feels valued. 

The performance planning process no longer equates with the leader's failure. Instead, it becomes a partnership with a colleague vs. an exercise in waving the white management flag.

Don't let the leaders in your organization surrender. The connection you build with them in lieu of "telling them how to handle the situation because they couldn't figure it out" will push your value and power through the roof.

Everybody wins. I like winning.

How About You
Who holds the power in your organization? You have more than you think. Respecting that power, and sharing it with your colleagues will go a long way to building your brand, and your HR team's brand too. Everybody wins.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.



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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Out of Place

“Life is at its best when everything has fallen out of place, and you decide that you're going to fight to get them right, not when everything is going your way and everyone is praising you.”
- Thisuri Wanniarachchi 

What are you going to fight for today?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 




Monday, November 3, 2014

New Found Power

"Good enough."

"No complaints."

"It's all good."

We use these terms all the time, don't we? It's as if we've accepted that our careers, or lives, or passions naturally settle into a routine that is less than stellar.

Settle. 

Work
I love the work I do. You probably do too. That doesn't mean I like every single thing I'm responsible for, but in total I am passionate (yes, I used that word) about leadership and change and innovation. But what happens if the work we love suddenly becomes something different over time? What if we finally notice that the energy and excitement we once felt has changed?

Maybe the work has evolved and we just didn't notice? Maybe expectations have changed and we didn't fully understand? Maybe the natural changes that occur in life caught up with us and "suddenly" we realize that what we once believed to be true is no longer accurate?
 
Drama and Power
Once we have clarity that our careers, or lives, or passions are just "good" a new world opens up before us. I'm not convinced that life should just be good enough, or that I should be thankful for everything just so I don't sound ungrateful.

Why shouldn't your career be great? Why shouldn't you be fired up when you think about your work? Why is settling something we're almost expected to do?

I'm not playing that game, and neither should you.

When the drama around you becomes the work...when the behavior around you gets in they way of good leadership...when the noise is the real culture...

...you need to stop playing along.

How About You
Let's return to a time when our energy and passion drove us to excel in our work. Hold others accountable. Hold yourself accountable. Keep pushing yourself and those around you to avoid the trap that settling represents. It's time to take your power back because quite honestly...settling stinks.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


 

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Toxic Sleep



I've spent years working out....and stopping...then starting again. It's not an uncommon cycle for many of us. I tried various strategies, programs and tricks to keep myself motivated. None of them had the staying power to help me move from being a "talker" about fitness to actually becoming committed to my health, until the summer of 2013.

Physical Health Is Not Enough
If you asked me if I knew working out and eating clean were good for me I would obviously answer yes. But if you asked me if I knew how to commit to being healthy I would only recently be able to answer.

That's the funny part. My brain knew the right answer, but I did not fully realize the powerful difference eating clean and regular exercise would make in my life.

For the last fourteen months I've had a different answer when I'm asked about health and fitness. 

Life Is 90% Mental
My transition from knowing I needed to workout, to understanding that I needed to be committed every day has changed me.

Completely.

My world starting moving faster than ever before. Yours may have picked up speed too. Balancing the many hats we wear in life, managing nonstop changes in the workplace, and pushing myself to take on new challenges for the first time in my career all happened during this period of time.

...but I couldn't figure out how to quiet my mind when it was racing with so many thoughts, ideas, and pressures.

...but I couldn't find the right formula to balance my energy for the responsibilities I had to deliver on.

...but I couldn't "do fitness half way" and find any peace.

Peace.

So I went all in. I realized the combination of eating clean, a decent amount of sleep, training at a high level, and pushing myself harder than ever before actually brought a sense of calm I had not experienced in the past. 

Think about that for a moment. My commitment to health actually slows my life down, gives me some control, and brings me peace each day.

How About You
What techniques do you use to quiet your mind? Do the vices in your world include a commitment to building energy through hard work in the gym or at home with a DVD or workout routine? 

Is your network part of your fitness lifestyle? Do you fuel your body to build the energy you will need to be successful? Or, do you allow stress to be a convenient excuse to sit on the couch and make unhealthy choices.

Find some peace today.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.





Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sworn to Believe


It's campaign season again. That can only mean one thing...people calling each other names on television! One of my favorite criticisms is that someone flip-flopped on an issue.

Wait a second. We're now attacking people because they learned something new and changed their mind?

What? Don't we spend countless hours reading, learning, growing, and evolving as leaders? If I change my mind on an issue at work is my boss going to accuse me of flip-flopping? Am I supposed to lock in my opinions for my entire life and never expand my world view? 

Messaging 
What if we built this philosophy into our leadership  development programs? It would probably sound something like this... 

"Good afternoon everyone. Today I need you to commit to all of your opinions on every issue and never change your mind again, despite what you may learn throughout your life. Here at Company XYZ we call that leadership." 
 
Risk 
There is another side of commitment, and that has to do with loyalty. I am a huge believer in being loyal to the brand you represent. Brands are a reputation, are culture, are people, brands mean so many things.

However, loyalty to a person is something very different. The cult of personality that comes with pledging loyalty to an individual feels awkward in the modern world of work. 

I don't think I'm supposed to be loyal to a individual exclusively, am I?

I would certainly follow a dynamic leader to another organization; but I wouldn't follow them to a company I didn't believe in. See the difference? Respecting someone and enjoying the work you do with them is very different than pledging loyalty.

How About You
Do you consider yourself a loyal employee? Is so, are you loyal to your organization or to an individual? 

This may seem like a simple issue; yet for those that focus exclusively on "the face of the franchise" the real work of leadership quickly gets lost in all the noise.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.



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